Geoffrey Rush, part penguin, part pratfall, a windmill with an identity crisis, is an inspired choice to play Sellers. And Charlize Theron is almost as good as Britt Ekland, the second of his four wives, so long as she remembers not to betray her superior intelligence. Not so shabby, either, are Emily Watson as his first wife, Anne, John Lithgow as Pink Panther director Blake Edwards, and Stanley Tucci as Dr. Strangelove director Stanley Kubrick—though why Lolita goes unmentioned while the corpselike Being There is so dwelled-upon mystifies. And maybe he was just such a needy monster, a seething id, as we see here playing mostly to his mom (Miriam Margolyes) in the theater of his head. But as exhausting as it obviously is to play or be Pagliacci, by now it is just tiresome to sit still for yet another sad clown without a scintilla of surprise or insight.
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Sunday, December 5. 9 to 11 P.M.